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  • Jason
    Jason

    Argument for having a good, old fashioned travel agent

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    Royal Caribbean is coming under fire for allegedly leaving an elderly American man stranded in a hospital in Bartin, Turkey after he fell and broke his hip.

    Dodge and Jill Melkonian, of Clearwater, Fla., were on an Azamara cruise, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, when Dodge fell and broke his hip requiring medical care that went beyond the capabilities of the ship's doctors.

    Tammy Levent, founder of Elite Travel, the couple's long-time travel agent, told Fox News that the ship's crew left them at a hospital in Bartin, where little English is spoken and, due to cultural rules, prohibits women inside the facility.

    She said that had it not been for her company's relationship with an in-country, English speaking tour guide, Okan Kutla, the couple would have been left to fend for themselves. Kutla was able to act as a translator and arrange for Melkonian to be transferred to an American hospital in Istanbul.

    "He is 89 years old with a broken hip," she said. "It was a government hospital, it was dirty. This hospital wasn’t capable of doing the surgery."

    The hospital where Melkonian was transferred was able to perform the surgery, but now he's facing further medical procedures, including a blood transfusion. But at $10,000 a day, the hospital tab is rising daily.

    The Melkonians had travel insurance, but it was set up by Royal Caribbean because the couple had been on another Royal Caribbean cruise that had been damaged by fire. This cruise was complementary as a result. Levent says that ordinarily she would have recommended additional insurance but the couple couldn't get it because the cruise was free. Levent says the cruise line, that has been slow to respond, should pick up the growing costs incurred by the couple.

    Royal Caribbean, in a statement, said that it has been assisting the couple all along.

    "Even though Mr. and Mrs. Melkonian had to leave the ship, we still provided assistance to them while in Turkey…the health and safety of all our guests is always our top priority. We will continue to what we can to assist Mr. and Mrs. Melkonian, and we wish him a speedy recovery," said spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean, Cynthia Martinez.

    Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has been working to help bring the couple home safely, and a State Department official weighed in saying that the consulate general in Istanbul is in direct communication with them.

    Having a reliable travel agent, especially during crisis, can provide more than emotional support. A travel agent is the client's advocate and works with cruise insurance companies to coordinate travel arrangements, such as cruise rebookings and flights. But in the cases where insurance doesn't cover the cost emergency medical care, Levent says having an agent fighting for you is invaluable.

    By Fox News

    For more cruise news & articles go to http://www.cruisecrazies.com/index.html

    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more

    http://www.cruisecrazies.com

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    I need to play devil's advocate:

    This couple chose to travel to countries where English is not the native language. They knew before they left the US that they were not eligible for additional travel insurance through the cruiseline. Why didn't they persue additional insurance elsewhere? To me, this would be a case of "must have insurance" vs. "another reason to have a travel agent."

    I'm not saying that they deserve substandard treatment. It's that sometimes we forget when we are on the cruise how it "is" on the islands that we visit. Third world countries will have third world facilities.

    And if these were my parents, I'd be screaming to get them back to the US immediately.

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    I need to play devil's advocate:

    This couple chose to travel to countries where English is not the native language. They knew before they left the US that they were not eligible for additional travel insurance through the cruiseline. Why didn't they persue additional insurance elsewhere? To me, this would be a case of "must have insurance" vs. "another reason to have a travel agent."

    I'm not saying that they deserve substandard treatment. It's that sometimes we forget when we are on the cruise how it "is" on the islands that we visit. Third world countries will have third world facilities.

    And if these were my parents, I'd be screaming to get them back to the US immediately.

    .

    Just a few quick points... Turkey is, in fact, considered a First World Country, not Third World. The breakup of the nations into First, Second and Third world was an invention of the United Nations in the late 1940s. The first world was generally considered to be the NATO aligned countries, former colonies and Japan.

    I think the bigger question would be why the staff on the Azamara ship would deposit Mr. and Mrs. Melkonian at ANY FACILITY where communication was for them was impossible. How could Mr. Melkonian even answer the most basic of question like 'Where does it hurt?'

    I congratulate their travel agent for going above and beyond to help them out but it likely would never have been necessary had they been transported to a more suitable hospital rather than the first available...

    By the way, I agree with you completely on demanding that they be brought back to the US immediately. There would be little question of the care afforded him here... I hope...

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    Cruise line insurance is not always the best. Many still use Berkeley. You want an insurance company that has 24 hour international access, emergency assistance and followup, including arranging medical evacuation. A number of river cruise companies use Travel Guard, which has just such services.

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    Cruise line insurance is not always the best. Many still use Berkeley. You want an insurance company that has 24 hour international access, emergency assistance and followup, including arranging medical evacuation. A number of river cruise companies use Travel Guard, which has just such services.

    Travel Guard is my company of choice. It's not the least expensive but they do provide a quality product.

    I don't believe it would have helped in this circumstance to try to purchase insurance outside the cruise line as it was a free cruise... no money was exchanged.

    It really is a shame that cruise lines don't provide a better product for insurance. It really can be a critical piece in assuring that proper care is afforded a passenger in the event of something untoward occurring.

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    I saw an interview with that TA and in it she stated that no other insurance was available beyond what was offered by Royal. She obviously never heard of insure my trip dot com or did not want to acknowledge that other options existed.

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